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Jeff Eisenberg

Bill Murray's son Luke forges his own path as a Division I coach

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Were it not for a line in his bio confirming he's the son of one of this nation's most iconic comedic actors, newly hired Wagner assistant coach Luke Murray doesn't think most of his colleagues would have any idea Bill Murray is his father.

He doesn't quote "Groundhog Day" or "Caddyshack." He doesn't speak in funny voices. In fact, he says he was so enthralled by basketball from an early age that he never even considered following in his father's footsteps in show business.

"I was always driven by sports, particularly basketball," Luke said by phone. "That's been my life since I was a little kid. I have an older brother who didn't really think about acting or anything along those lines either. There wasn't any pressure to get involved in any of those things, and I think my dad's probably happy that we didn't."

That new Wagner coach Danny Hurley gave Luke his first Division I assistant coaching opportunity last week is a dream come true for the 25-year-old self-professed lifelong basketball junkie. Bill introduced Luke to sports as a child growing up in New York, but the younger Murray took it from there, spending summer afternoons from age 10 and up watching New York-area AAU basketball and observing how marquee college coaches interacted with recruits.

Immersing himself in basketball from a young age paid off quickly for Luke, who coached a local AAU team as a senior in high school and spent time with several prominent New England and New York AAU squads while studying at Fairfield College. Luke has risen quickly since graduating from Fairfield, serving as a graduate assistant at Quinnipiac in 2007, a Division II assistant coach at Post University in 2008 and again as a graduate assistant last season at Arizona.

"It's more or less a product of me being driven," Luke said. "It's a misconception that people have that my dad just makes a couple calls and helps me get a job or an interview, but that hasn't been the case. I started on the ground floor and worked my way up. Every opportunity I've gotten either in high school, AAU or college has been a relationship I've developed independent of him."

The decision to jump from Arizona to Wagner was a fairly easy one for Luke because it represented a chance to break into the Division I assistant coaching ranks at a school not far from where he grew up. He believes his knowledge of New York and New England AAU circles will help Danny Hurley turn Wagner into a perennial Northeast Conference contender.

"I worked in this league once before at Quinnipiac, and there's just a totally different buzz at Wagner as a result of Coach Hurley being here and [his brother] Bobby coming back as an assistant," Luke said. "I think recruits, high school coaches, AAU coaches and the Wagner community are really excited about what could happen here."

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